Texas Rangers Prospect Owen White Trusts His Stuff (and For Good Reason)

Texas Rangers
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Owen White opened a lot of eyes last year, and he did so by consistently shutting down the opposition. Pitching primarily with the Low-A Down East Wood Ducks, the 22-year-old right-hander punched out 56 batters in 35.1 innings and posted a 3.06 ERA. He then put the finishing touches on a stellar first professional season by dominating the Arizona Fall League, winning all five of his decisions, logging a 1.91 ERA, and again fanning over a batter per inning. Buoyed by those performances, the 2018 second-round pick — Tommy John surgery and the pandemic delayed the start of his career — came into the current campaign No.84 on our 2022 Top 100 Prospects list.

His second professional season has been more of the up-and-down variety. In nine starts with the High-A Hickory Crawdads, the hard-throwing China Grove, North Carolina native has a middling 4.73 ERA, albeit with 61 strikeouts in 45.2 innings. Displaying plus stuff as he develops, White continues to miss bats.

White, who was ranked No. 5 on our newly released Texas Rangers Top Prospects list, discussed his repertoire and approach to pitching at the tail end of the Arizona Fall League season.


David Laurila: Let’s start with who you are as a pitcher. Give me a self scouting report.

Owen White: “I think what separates me right now is the difference between my four- and my two-seam. I’ve gotten a lot more ground balls here in the Fall League. I’m able to elevate the four-seam, then follow that with a two-seam to produce ground balls and double plays. In the long run, that saves me pitches. Those two pitches have definitely benefited me the most.”

Laurila: How long have you been throwing both a two- and a four-seam?

White: “When I got drafted, I was mainly two-seam. After I had TJ [in 2019], I started throwing only four-seams. Then this year I started working on a sinker. It really kicked in this summer.”

Laurila: Your sinker is a two-seam.

White: “It’s kind of a blend between a one-seam and a two-seam. The grip is more of a two-seam, but it comes out in a way that you can see only one seam. I think it’s the way it comes out of my hand more than anything.”

Laurila: What are the movement profiles on your fastballs?

White: “I think the average vert on my four-seam has been right around 17–18 [inches], and the average vert on my sinker has been 14, running down to about 16. The two separate pretty well.”

Laurila: Separation aside, would you say they’re pretty equal in quality?

White: “I’d say so. Usage-wise, I split them evenly. I don’t think one is better than the other, but more importantly, they play off each other.”

Laurila: Location is obviously important. You’re going to want to elevate the four-, and work the sinker down.

White: “Yes, but to me it’s not really the location so much as the movement difference. I’ve had outings where my four- and two-seam are just the same. I mean, getting that difference in vertical — and with there also being some run on the sinker — I’m missing barrels. If they hit the ball, they’re hitting the top of it and rolling over. With the four- at the top of the zone, it’s either a swing-and-miss or a pop-up.”

Laurila: Is there a velocity difference?

White: “Not really. The velo averages are right around the same, with the two-seam being maybe one mph less than the four-seam. They’re generally around 94–95.”

Laurila: What can you tell me about your curveball?

White: “I spike it — it’s a knuckle curve — and when I throw it with conviction, it’s usually going to be good. I think most pitchers will tell you that throwing something with conviction makes a pitch better. I’m trying to learn a slider, too. I want a breaking pitch that I can throw a little harder. My next goal in the pitching category is getting separation between my slider and my curveball.”

Laurila: The slider is new?

White: “Yes and no. I kind of had one before, but I wasn’t polished with it. I’m still not polished with my slider. Every day is a learning experience, trying to get it to where I can throw it at any time in any point of the game. As a starter, it’s nice to have that pitch in your mix. The more pitches you have, the longer you can go in the game.”

Laurila: Do you have a changeup in your repertoire?

White: “I do. It’s your standard two-seam circle, and I think it’s turned into a plus pitch for me. It’s played well, especially off the sinker. It’s been a good pitch for me here in the Fall League.”

Laurila: Any final thoughts?

White: “Maybe just that throwing everything with conviction, like I said, is a big part of pitching. From there, whatever happens happens. If they put a good swing on it, good for them. It’s their job to hit the ball. But if I throw the ball with conviction — if I trust my stuff, knowing that I have guys behind me to make plays — my chances are pretty good.”

David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

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